'Dogs cut loose vs. 'Landers

By Wes Holtsclaw
STAR STAFF
wholtsclaw@starhq.com

   The Hampton Bulldogs finally had an offensive explosion with the defense to back it up.
   In a doubleheader at Cloudland, Hampton rode an 11-run inning to top the Highlanders 16-6, then went for the shutout with a 9-0 victory in the second game Friday afternoon.
   "It will pull you out of the doldrums," said Hampton coach Scotty Bunton. "This is good for the kids going into the bad part of the schedule."
   Eric Cole took the first victory on the mound, while Josh Cole was strong in the second win.
   "We played well and hit it well, but we hit it to them," said Cloudland coach Robbie Turbyfill. "You've got to give credit to Coach Bunton. They hit the ball hard."
   "I was very impressed with them. They fielded it well," he said. "We only had three errors today and played well. We just couldn't get over the hump.
   Cloudland led the first game before Hampton took over in the third inning.
   The Bulldogs were the first to go on a scoring rally in the game when Ben Harrison, Adam Miller, Brandon Barnett and Zack Crabtree all added RBI hits to give their squad a 5-0 lead.
   A two-run single from Nick Winchester set the pace for Cloudland, who led by one when catcher Dakota Benfield sent a grand slam rocket over the fence.
   Justin Waycaster had two RBI hits in the third inning, while Harrison and Eric Cole brought a run across the plate for the Bulldogs.
   But it as Dustin Crumley's response to the Highlanders that sealed the deal for Hampton, when he brought four across the plate with a grand slam homer of his own.
   Cloudland was hitless in the final two innings of the first game.
   The 'Landers had a lot of fielded outs with doubles from Winchester and Aaron Stocton in the second game.
   They couldn't get on the board.
   Hampton scored all nine of their runs in the first two innings. A walk to Cody Montgomery scored the first run before Crumley and Gene Sanchez provided runs off hits.
   The second inning was Crumley's again. After Adam Miller provided two runs on a double, Crumley went for a curtain call and delivered his second grand slam of the day with a shot over centerfield.
   "I'm glad to see the catcher start hitting -- I expect more out of him," said Bunton of Crumley.
   It was a solid offensive outing for the team against Cloudland pitcher Mark Byrd. Bunton wants his team to compete as well against other talented pitchers.
   "We don't face any better in our conference than him,"
   Bunton said. "Byrd's better than what we've seen, we're just not getting it done against others.
   Crumley led the Dogs with a five-of-five effort at the plate with his nine RBI's. Harrison, Montgomery,
   Sanchez, Crabtree and Miller each had two hits or more for Hampton.
   Byrd, Benfield and Winchester had Cloudland's lone multi-hit afternoons.
   Cloudland continues play Monday with a home double-header against Tri-Cities Christian, while Hampton visits Elizabethton.
   "We're looking for a good effort at Elizabethton. We'll try to bring the best game we've got," Bunton said.
   SOFTBALL
   Cloudland 8
   Sullivan North 2
   Avenging an 18-1 loss on the road earlier this season, the Cloudland softball squad was out for revenge against Sullivan North.
   The Lady Raiders held a one run lead through most of the game, but the Lady Highlanders exploded with seven runs in the sixth inning to help take an 8-2 victory at home Friday.
   "You take any win, but when you have a quality win, it makes it more special and the girls are excited," said Cloudland coach Gary Keith. "That's two we've had this season."
   The 'Lander ladies wanted to bounce back after a loss at North Greene earlier in the week.
   "We went to North Greene and stuck," said Keith. "We didn't make routine plays. Today, we didn't make one error and we were throwing strikes."
   Cloudland rode a complete game from junior pitcher Kayla Blevins to victory. Blevins tossed six strikeouts in the game.
   It's Cloudland's eighth win of the season under Keith, who took over after the squad had only won two games in five years.
   Offensively, the Lady 'Landers put up one in the second inning when Nikki Cordell advanced Daranda Byrd across the plate.
   The Watauga Conference foe put up two runs in the fourth inning to take a lead.
   Cloudland came alive in the bottom of the sixth when Blevins walked and Byrd doubled. It set up a two-run single from Jamie Icenhour to give the team a lead.
   Jessica Lunsford had a sacrificed fly with an RBI before a single and error helped Cordell land at second. Jessica Ledford followed with a single before Blevins and Byrd drove across runs for their squad.
   Byrd led Cloudland with a three of four outing at the plate, while Nikki Carrow, Blevins, Icenhour, Tryphena Denton and Cordell each had two hits in the game.